Feature: Rain Barrels Runneth Over for Soak Up the Rain New Hampshire’s First Year

By: Jillian McCarthy, NH Dept. of Environmental Services 

As the leaves begin to fall across the state, the Soak Up the Rain (SOAK) program is wrapping up a successful field season. True to its name, the program and its partners literally soaked up over 120,000 gallons of stormwater in 2014, preventing an estimated 11,500 pounds of sediment, 3.2 pounds of phosphorus, and 6.3 pounds of nitrogen from washing into the state’s lakes, streams, and coastal waters.

SOAK rain garden sign

A beautiful & functional completed rain garden


This season, the SOAK program partnered with the Great Bay Stewards, Silver Lake Land Trust, Green Mountain Conservation Group, Massabesic NH Audubon, and the Town of Washington, NH to complete projects and teach residents about the connection between land use and water quality. Too much runoff from our roofs and driveways can wash fertilizer, pet waste, or eroding soils into nearby lakes and streams, polluting the water.


The SOAK program provides resources to people who want to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution from their properties. Good housekeeping practices and do-it-yourself fact sheets for rain gardens, dry wells, and other practices can help people protect the pond in their back yard, the beach where they swim, or the bay where they paddle. Financial and technical assistance is available to local organizations interested in starting a Soak Up the Rain program in their communities.

Volunteer & SOAK Program Team ready to dig in on a stormwater management project

Volunteer & SOAK Program Team ready to dig in on a stormwater management project

This summer, the SOAK program was awarded a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The grant includes working with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and the Great Bay Stewards to expand the program in the Great Bay estuary region and develop training for professional landscapers to install stormwater management practices suitable for small sites, and consider site drainage when designing and performing other landscaping services. Grant work will begin in late Fall.

SOAK is a voluntary program, managed by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, with the goal of protecting and restoring clean water from the negative impacts of stormwater pollution. More information on the SOAK program is available at www.soaknh.org or by contacting Jillian McCarthy at 603-271-8475.

PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at the University of New Hampshire.